Whatever the circumstances the failure to give a Pulitzer Prize for fiction is a curious metaphor in an age in which we are fed more and more "given" narratives about the world, where the function and spirit of narrative in a culture is in a state of tremendous flux. There is so much fiction going on in the world we live in--fiction that is created without thought, generated from the press, from ads, from gossip and fashion magazines--fiction that is casual, made up.
As a result, the independent bookstores are going to take a hit they because particularly in these times those bookstores bet on the Pulitzer for more ficiton sales.
We all know that it was just a question of the judges not being able to agree and in 76 there was also no Pulitzer for fiction, as well. The decision can all be seen in the calm, clear light of palable, acceptable news.
But what is happening to the imagination? Just how is it being co-opted? And perhaps the judges--ponderous as they are--might have thought of a larger context, the context of this world, this life, this disappearance of imaginative narrative from the culture.
Independent bookstores are fighting back and encouraging readers to ask them about good fiction to read.
And writers of fiction must fight back, too. By writing.
Storytellers were always the preservers of the myth of a time and culture. They still are. Without fiction we don't really know what's going on in private lives, in delicate questions about morality. (The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan, for example.) We don't know what people really do at home or the suffering--large and small--that's woven into the fabric of being human. We only know what the newspapers are allowed to tell us, what the ads depict (lifestyle, instead of life)--and the gloss that all of us put on our lives to anyone but the most intimate friends. Except for a major tragedy, like a death, which people find out by chance (now, as often as not, in a social media network)--all is as it is supposed to be.
Until we pick up a book and are relieved and intrigued to get a glimpse of lives that in some ways throw light on our own.
Even more than that--we get to live with an author. In The Moon and Sixpence, Maugham says that in addition to a work of art, the artist lays before you the greater gift of himself. (Had he written later, I'm sure Maughm would have said "herself.")
The vulnerability of the narrator not only draws us in to the story. If the sensibility resonates to ours, it comforts us
And so....readers (all of us), please seek out new works of fiction.
And writers...please keep writing.
Causes Thaisa Frank Supports
Kiva Doctors without Borders Care2